Up in Wisconsin, just 2 1/2 hours from Chicago, there is a magical place called Kohler. There you will find a top notch golf course, an incredible spa, elegant restaurants, a wine bar with one of the best cheese lists in the country, and The American Club, a five star, five diamond resort. I first discovered Kohler over the summer when Charles and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary there. And two weekends ago I was thrilled to return to Kohler with my food blogging friends Jocelyn, Jenny, Alice, Allie, Amanda, and Phi to attend Kohler Food and Wine.
Kohler takes food festivals to the next level with their three day Kohler Food and Wine event which takes place each October. The thing that makes this festival stand out from all the rest is that it provides a more interactive experience for attendees. While the chefs do their demos, you get to taste what they are making! It’s brilliant!
Kohler Food and Wine brings in top tier chefs for cooking demonstrations and dinners. Some of the big name chefs included Jacques Pepin, Jeff Mauro (Sandwich King), Scott Conant (Chopped), Christopher Kimball (America’s Test Kitchen), and Mindy Segal (HotChocolate). After their demos were over, the chefs took photos and signed books for the crowd. At some other festivals the chefs aren’t very accessible, but at Kohler you can actually say hi to the chefs.
One of the things I loved about the trip was that we split out time between Kohler Food and Wine events, and experiences that you can enjoy in Kohler year-round. We spent our days at the cooking demos, and then dined at Kohler’s restaurants at night.
The evening we arrived in Kohler we enjoyed a lavish three course dinner at Immigrant, The American Club’s Fine Dining Restaurant. I started with risotto with pancetta and a poached egg served with freshly shaved white truffles from Alba.
Followed by the most incredible Japanese Kobe Strip Loin. It was rich and had a buttery taste, even though it was not cooked in any butter… Kobe beef is just that good. It was a spectacular meal, and ended with some elaborate and elegant desserts. Our meal at Immigrant was a wonderful experience, and I can’t wait to go back.
The next day, Kohler Food & Wine was in full force. We started out day by watching Jeff Mauro, who is hilarious, make Nashville Fried Chicken Sandwiches.
This was one of my favorite tastings of the weekend. Oh, and did I mention that each tasting is paired with wine or beer?
Alice, Allie, and I stuck around after to get a pic with Jeff, who is opening his first restaurant, Pork & Mindy’s in Chicago soon!
Next we went to the Kohler Design Center where Jocelyn was making a recipe from her new book, the Grandbaby Cakes Cookbook! She made her Cinnamon Roll Cake, and it was buttery and had just the right amount of cinnamon.
Then Jenny and I headed to the Cocktail Academy where Hendrick’s Gin was hosting a session on mixing gin cocktails. We mixed up three different drinks during the session. I loved the cucumber lemonade, and will be making it at home.
We made our way back to the main tent for Cooking from the Heart with Jacques and Claudine Pepin. In an hour they showed the audience how to make four different recipes, all while answering questions from the crowd.
After the demo, we headed back to The American Club for A Walk Through Vineyards, a wine tasting experience where you could actually purchase the wines you loved. I have been lots of similar wine tasting events, but this was the first wine tasting I attended where you could buy the wine!
The last event of our jam-packed day was Taste of the Vine at the Kohler Design Center. The Kohler Design Center is where Kohler shows off their products. The second floor of the design center features dream kitchens and bathrooms created by interior designers. My favorite bathroom is pink and has a secret door that leads to a big tub with a tv playing Breakfast at Tiffanys.
We had fun browsing the rooms while sipping champagne. There are also lots of food and wine tastings at the event.
Jocelyn and I were pretty excited about the large display of desserts. We took it upon our ourselves to try most of the sweets.
See how happy we are? That’s what happens when you eat a series of delectable desserts.
While we had spent our day learning about food and wine, Taste of the Vine was all about eating and drinking.
We refused to let the fun stop when Taste the Vine ended, so we went to The Winery Bar for wine and late night snacks. Ryan from the The Winery Bar is seriously the nicest guy and he offered to bring us the incredible cheese curds from Horse and Plow, something you must try if you visit Kohler. It was the ultimate late night snack. Oh, and even though it is called The Winery Bar, they serve seriously amazing cocktails, like this Carrot 43 Martini.
I took things easy the next morning with a Lavender Rain Spa Treatment. I had never had a hydrotherapy treatment before, but I am obsessed now. First my skin was exfoliated, then a high tech shower with lots of jets moved over the bed rinsing my entire body. The session ended a moisturizing massage. My skin had never been softer.
Perfectly relaxed and clean it was time to join my friends at another session with Jacques and Claudine Pepin. One of the things that I liked about their demos is that they shared a mix of simple and more advanced recipes from Jacques’ new book Heart & Soul In The Kitchen. These Faux Savarins are made by soaking store bought madeleines in a rum syrup, and they are served topped with fruit and a bit of sour cream. So easy!
And after the session, it was time for a snack so we went to the Craverie Chocolate Cafe. Some of my friends picked out some of Kohler’s Original Recipe Chocolates, a recipe that was perfected through making 100 batches, but I had to try the caramel brownie ice cream. The night before I did try Kohler’s famous Terrapin, their version of a turtle, and I am happy to report that it’s magnificent.
Next we all went to the Greenhouse in the courtyard of The American Club for a meet and greet with the Pepins. The Greenhouse is so pretty, and inside they serve tea, coffee, and light meals. I stopped in a few times for tea too.
It was such a pleasure to spend time with this father-daughter team. I shared lots of tidbits from our time with the Pepins in this post.
We spent our afternoon at Grant Macpherson’s Hosting Beautifully for the Holidays, a session that was paired with beer.
We loved his version of chicken and waffles, which involved a buckwheat waffle topped with buffalo chicken.
Next we stopped by the Stella Artois Best of Belgium Cafe for a taste of their Cidre paired with some cheese.
That night we dined at the River Wildlife Lodge, an amazing restaurant housed in a log cabin tucked into woods. We might have discussed moving in…
The River Wildlife Lodge specializes in seasonal Midwestern cuisine. You know how I love meat and potatoes, and this beef tenderloin with creamy mashed potatoes, and a glass of red wine was my ideal fall meal. My meal ended with some of the best carrot cake I had ever tried, it was a moist cake (without nuts or raisins!) topped with a maple cream cheese frosting. Yes, it was as amazing as it sounds.
Sunday we wrapped things up with the Champagne Brunch at The Wisconsin Room, which serves the best brunch I have ever experienced. This isn’t your typical restaurant brunch buffet. You can get creme brûlée French Toast and Eggs Benedict. I am also a huge fan of their cheesy hash brown casserole. Just writing this is making my mouth water.
Then we swung by the closing event of the weekend, Save the Best Taste for Last, a low key event with live music and lots of food and drink tastings in the Main Stage Tent.
We were still pretty full from brunch, but I tried a Croque Madame topped with a quail egg, and washed it down with a bit of Stella Artois.
I think this post demonstrates the incredible breadth of Kohler Food and Wine activities. This trip was the ultimate foodie vacation, and I can’t say enough good things about it. Interested in going to Kohler Food and Wine next year? “Savor the Date” for the 16th annual Kohler Food & Wine which will be held on October 20-23 2016. If you want to explore Kohler before then, there lots of events coming up! The Kohler events calendar includes Comedy Weekend (Nov. 13&14), the Five-Star Dine Around (Dec. 10), a New Year’s Eve Celebration, and lots more.
Huge thanks to Destination Kohler for hosting us!